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Minimizing Leakage on Heat-Exchanger Girth Flanges

By Pankaj Kumar Singla, Fluor Daniel Ltd. |

Thermal distortion in heat-exchanger internal components can lead to leakage, but several design measures can be taken to mitigate these concerns Leakage of bolted flange joints results in additional costs at any facility in the chemical process industries (CPI), and poses significant operational, environmental and safety risks. There can be many reasons for flange leakages, such as thermal shocks or differential thermal expansion of components, uneven bolt stresses, improper flange alignment, improper gasket seating, high vibration levels, incompatible materials and so on. Some of these causes can be rectified by properly selecting materials or using the correct assembly techniques. Some reasons, such as thermal shocks and high vibration levels, are direct results of operating conditions. This article outlines a basis for identifying the thermal shock scenario in the girth flange joints of shell-and-tube heat exchangers and the design measures that can be adopted in mechanical strength calculations of flanges to minimize leakage due to thermal shocks in operational equipment. Shell-and-tube heat exchangers are an essential part of any petroleum refinery or chemical processing plant. They are used to transfer heat energy across…
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